What causes bad traffic

Cause of the accident: poor road conditions

Potholes or cracks in the road surface represent an increased accident risk for all road users. The German Insurance Association (GDV) explains what those affected should pay attention to if they suffer damage as a result.

Among other things, tight budgets of the federal states, districts and municipalities are the reason that some roads, which resemble a lunar landscape with cracks and holes, are not or only poorly repaired. However, such road damage is dangerous for all road users. On the one hand, damage to the vehicle can occur if the driver accidentally drives a tire into a deep pothole. On the other hand, two-wheelers can easily fall and injure themselves due to potholes.

In principle, the federal government, states, districts and municipalities are obliged to notify road users of existing road damage, for example by means of appropriate signs. But even if this information is missing, it depends on the circumstances of the individual case whether you can be made liable for any damage that has occurred.

If road damage is clearly visible on a road with little traffic, road users must adapt their driving style accordingly. However, if damage occurs because a vehicle drove into a pothole, the vehicle owner has to pay for it himself. According to various court rulings, this also applies if no warning notices have been put up.

A street is not just a street

The Higher Regional Court of Schleswig-Holstein (Az .: 7 U 6/11), for example, rejected a claim for damages by a scooter driver against the Bad Segeberg district, who fell due to the poor condition of a district road in broad daylight and was injured. The reason: He would have had to be prepared for the recognizable road damage on the subordinate side street and the dangers in the transition area between the lane and unpaved shoulder and had to adapt his driving behavior accordingly.

In the case of busy main roads, federal roads and motorways, however, many judgments are in favor of motorists. For example, the Naumburg Higher Regional Court (Az .: 10 U 13/12) decided that with a pothole depth of 20 centimeters on a busy main road, it is not enough for the community to put up warning signs. The danger point should have been removed or at least cordoned off immediately.

A warning sign is not always enough

In another court case, the Koblenz Higher Regional Court (Az .: 12 U 1255/07) ruled that on motorways with potholes 20 centimeters deep it is not sufficient to put up road signs indicating road damage. The court case was about a motorist whose car was damaged by large chunks of asphalt that a car in front had thrown out of the provisionally repaired lane.

There was a warning sign on the highway that indicated road damage over a length of five kilometers. According to the judges, however, in order to comply with the traffic safety obligation, the state should have put up additional signs with information on the specific danger spots and a speed limit. In addition, the road should have been rehabilitated in such a way that at least no more asphalt could have come off the road.

The right preservation of evidence

Road users who have suffered vehicle damage or were injured due to road damage should immediately submit their claims for damages and / or compensation for pain and suffering to the responsible road construction agency, such as the state, district or municipality. According to the General Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV), the injured party should photograph the road damage and the traffic signs on site to secure evidence. It is also useful to take pictures of the damage to the vehicle.

It is also useful if the images show the extent of the road damage such as the size and depth of a pothole that caused the accident, for example by taking a photo of a folding rule. Testimony from other road users and an accident report from the police help when it comes to proving that there were insufficient hazard warnings.

Cost protection with the right policy

Anyone who is convinced that the road construction company has violated its duty to ensure road safety and that damage has occurred as a result can, if necessary, claim their rights in court. A traffic legal protection policy would, if the insurer gives a benefit commitment, then cover the legal, expert and court costs.

However, if the traffic safety obligation has been fulfilled by the state, the district or the municipality, the injured party will be left with his own damage costs. However, there is an exception for car owners who have fully comprehensive insurance. As a rule, this also covers vehicle damage to your own car that has occurred in the event of an accident as a result of a pothole or other road damage.